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Kyle Busch Still at Odds with Christopher Bell After COTA Incident; Drivers Spoke on Phone This Week

Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell had a phone call this week following an on-track incident and post-race confrontation at Circuit of the Americas. Busch says he will race Bell very hard this week at Richmond if he finds himself near Bell on Sunday.


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A week removed from an on-track run-in in the final Stage of the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas, Kyle Busch is still miffed at the contact from Christopher Bell that sent him spinning out of the fifth position. While Busch rebounded to finish the day in ninth, he was hoping for an even better finish to help quelch the disappointment of three-straight finishes of 22nd-or-worse heading into that event.

Following the race at COTA, Busch confronted Bell on pit road, and the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion was quite heated. On Monday, Bell says that he had a follow up phone call with Busch. Bell says he reached out, and Busch initially didn't answer, but he was pleasantly surprised when Busch called him back.

"I was surprised that he called me back," Bell explained. "I called him on Monday, and he didn't answer. I thought that was going to be the end of it. I was really happy that he called me back and we had a conversation. It was a good conversation. We don't have a lot of run-ins, but the two times we've had a run-in, he's been on the losing side of it. I'll just race him with respect as I always try to. It is what it is."

In a Saturday morning media availability at Richmond Raceway, Busch said he called back because he wanted to clearly express his point of view on the incident to Bell. Busch says he feels he got his point of view more clearly defined in the phone call than he did in the heated post-race confrontation.

"[I called him back] Just to give more of my side than what I said on pit road. For him to have a greater understanding of my objectives and what I've got going on versus what he might think he has going on. I think he understood that," Busch said. "I heard his side of it, and didn't really believe much into it, when I didn't even give consideration to him making a move because he was four lanes back. And then all of a sudden, he was there. I knew he was back there, but too far to do anything. And then I got hit. It is what it is."

For Busch, the frustration mounts even more as the incident was with a driver that he was a former teammate to at Joe Gibbs Racing, and it's a driver that he actually opened the door for when he signed him to a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driving contract at Kyle Busch Motorsports.

"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating. Especially when they're the KBM alums, right," Busch sharply pointed. "Like, when you're racing against guys that have come through KBM, you've helped them along the way and you feel like they're taking that extra 10 percent rather than giving a little bit out of respect. But everybody has their own race out there, and they try to do what they need to do. Obviously, Christopher is in really good stuff, at a really good place, and he needs to understand that."

Busch still holds resentment over the move at COTA, which led to him spinning after contact from Bell for the second time in three seasons at the 3.410-mile road course in Austin, Texas. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion says that he will go into this weekend with a different mindset when it comes to battling the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

"[I'll] Run him harder for a little bit until he concedes that he's sorry on the race track and then get back to normal," Busch explained.

For Bell, the feud between himself and Busch is a complicated situation as Bell considers Busch one of the drivers that he is closest to in the NASCAR Cup Series garage.

"I would say he's one of my closest competitors," Bell admitted. "Especially since Brexton started running the dirt cars, we talk often whenever we run into each other about the dirt track racing. So, yeah, I would say he's one of the closest competitors in the sport that I have."

Based on Bell's comments, you would expect him to concede to Busch on track sooner rather than later in an effort to bury the hatchet. But race car drivers are a very selfish lot once the helmets get strapped on. If Bell pushes the issue, he could recieve a push from Busch in Sunday night's Toyota Owners 400.

Photo Credit: Tyson Gifford, TobyChristie.com

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